Blog 45 - PGA Day One, North Bellingham Amateur


Jim Gray
Corey Pavin
Where to start, where to about with Golf Channel correspondent Jim Gray and US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin's little set-to? To summarize the details - Gray asks Pavin (off-camera and just as Pavin is registering for the tournament) whether or not Tiger Woods will be a Captain's pick for the US Ryder Cup team; Pavin says yes (allegedly); Gray reports as much; Pavin denies he ever said Woods had a definite spot on the team at a Wednesday press conference, adding it would be disrespectful to other players trying to earn a Captain's pick, and that Gray's quote was incorrect; Pavin approaches Gray immediately following the press conference (or was it the other way round?) and says Gray is 'full of (something); Gray retorts by calling Pavin a liar, jabs a finger in his chest and says 'You're going down' (not entirely clear if he means Pavin himself is going down, or his US Ryder Cup team); Pavin's wife Lisa gets involved sticking up for her husband and taping the conversation, a recording she says she won't release unless Gray continues bad-mouthing Pavin (Corey); Gray holds up an arm in an attempt to prevent Pavin (Lisa) from intervening; Pavin (Corey) pushes Gray's arm away; Pavin (Lisa) describes Gray as a 'wuss' to a PGA official; Gray says on Golf Channel that he did not misquote Pavin (Corey), and that he stood 100% behind his story; Golf Channel adds that it too stands by Gray's story.
Or something like that.
I don't know either man apart from what I've seen on TV and in the occasional press tent, but I do know how words said in a hurry can be both missdirected and misinterpreted. Gray asserts that in response to his question about giving Woods a Captain's pick, Pavin actually said 'Of course I'm going to'. If indeed that's true, Gray can't be blamed for reporting that Pavin had confirmed Woods would definitely be one of his wild cards. On the other hand, if Pavin was caught a little off-guard (he was registering after all), he might have meant to say something like 'of course I'm going to consider Tiger Woods'. The exchange was off-air, so Pavin probably wasn't as prepared for the question as he might otherwise have been.
Still, whatever the truth of it, there was no need for Gray to go pushing Pavin in the chest, and probably no need for Pavin to take the tone he did during, or following, the press conference. Something like; 'I've known Jim Gray a long time and he is an excellent reporter and professional, but on this occasion he misinterpreted what I was trying to say slightly. I understand why that misinterpretation occurred, but it's right for me now to set the record straight,' might have worked better.
Gray probably won't be attending any more Pavin press conferences and he certainly won't be interviewing him on-air. But really, who cares? It was an interesting, not to say bizarre, sideshow that took attention off Woods and his preparations for the tournament, for a few hours at least.

Working well so far
Woods spent much of his practice time 'chatting' with instructor Sean Foley who works with Sean O'Hair, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan and Stephen Ames. Foley says the two were just swapping ideas, but it was very interesting to see Woods's caddie Steve Williams holding a club against his boss's head on the range - a drill that Woods has not used before - presumably to prevent any sway in the backswing and keep Woods centred over the ball.
Woods was brilliant, and won plenty of majors, with the swings that Butch Harmon and then Hank Haney taught him, so his recent travails probably have little to do with technique. But, as is the case with Louis Oosthuizen and his little red dot, Woods certainly needed something new to focus on. It certainly wasn't Haney's fault that Woods's swing began to unravel, and whatever Foley is telling him isn't necessarily correct. Woods is so determined (and usually so good a putter), he will make any swing work for him. But surely he's doing the right thing in seeking Foley's opinion. I'd say it's a good bet they will make their working relationship official before long.
I saw Woods on TV today and it was clear (well, with the help of Frank Nobilo's comments) what change he is attempting to make. On one tee (I think it was the 4th), he made as compact, powerful and controlled a swing as I've seen him make since the 2006 Open Championship at Hoylake, where I think he was swinging the best he had since the glory days of 2000. On the next tee though, he lost it completely, dropping the club in the follow-through and pulling the ball so badly it ended up in an  unplayable lie. Nobilo said his arms had become 'disconnected' from his upper body and that, as a result, everything was out of sequence. He still made a gritty par despite the penalty-shot, and later birdied the 9th with two perfect swings for a round of one-under 71 - definitely not out of it. It will be fascinating to see where he goes from here.

Wishing Phil well
It was sad to hear Phil Mickelson has been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis (as if his family hasn't had to put up with enough health scares recently) because I know someone with a very similar condition who certainly won't be winning any green jackets. Mickelson says the prognosis is good and that the medication he is taking is working well. Let's hope that's true because, for all his occasionally woeful sub-par performances (WGC Bridgestone Invitational last weekend anybody?) golf still needs him badly.

You just have to love Bubba Watson. It's hard to describe his swing or, more specifically, his follow-through which sometimes gets so abreviated and looks so awkward it appears to be that of a 20-handicapper. But how enjoyable it is to see a player with an action that turns its nose up at the coaching manual and yet still propels the ball absurdly long distances (he hit the 598-yard 5th hole in two with a drive and 56 degree sand wedge today).

Watson; far from elementary
What was less enjoyable was seeing him break down in the press tent following his round when he was asked about his father (who has cancer) and his wife (who had a suspected tumor). Struggling for words, he joked that he had once liked the press and asked 'what am I talking about...didn't I come in here to talk about my golf?' At the end, he remarked that everyone would probably now think him a sissy.
He also explained why he tries to curve the ball so much. 'I do it because I can't hit it straight,' he said. 'I do it because that's how I play golf.' And asked if his swing was hard to maintain, he replied; 'I have no idea, I've never had a lesson, so I just play golf. This job is fun for me.'
Then, in response to a question about how he had spent the early part of the week, Watson had this to say; 'We got here Sunday night, flew in with Rickie (Fowler), called Rickie at the house that I rented and said there's three kids that live here, there are Razors (scooters), there are skate boards, there's basketball, there's football, there's Frisbee, disk golf in the back, there's bicycles. I said do you want to come over. We shot Twitter videos, we threw the football, played catch with the baseball, played basketball, we cruised around with some neighborhood kids on the Razors, road bikes, and we went and had ice cream afterwards.'
Yep, you gotta love Bubba.

On an entirely different note, congratulations to Sandy Vaughn who won the North Bellingham Amateur at the weekend with rounds of 67 and 70. Paul Harris was second on 139, then there was a five-shot gap to Kung Chih Chun and Patrick Boag in third.

Hard luck to Fred Urquhart and Ted King who both shot final round 80s at Abbotsford's Ledgeview GC in the British Columbia Senior Amateur Championship today. Urquhart, who began with rounds of 72 and 74 to be tied for 10th through 36 holes, eventually finished in a tie for 19th, while King, who won the inaugural PNGA Super-Senior Men's Amateur Championship in June, fell into a tie for 40th.

Add comment

Security code